Pot-Shop Limits Build Pollution, Patients Say

     SAN DIEGO (CN) - Medical marijuana patients sued San Diego, claiming its restrictions on the number of pot shops in the city exacerbate pollution by increasing the number of people who cultivate pot at home or have to travel to pick up their medicine.
     The Union of Medical Marijuana Patients, a civil rights group that advocates for "sensible regulations," sued the City of San Diego and the California Coastal Commission in Superior Court.
     The L.A.-based group challenges the city ordinance that caps consumer medical marijuana cooperatives at 36, and limits co-ops to four per City Council district.
     The union claims the city illegally ducked an environmental review of the regulation by claiming that the law is not a "project" and is therefore exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act.
     The union claims the regulation's restrictions will force some patients to travel farther to pick up their medicine.
     "By adopting the ordinance, the city committed itself to a particular approach to regulating medical marijuana - an extremely restrictive approach that, among other things, requires thousands of patients to drive across the city to obtain their medicine because cooperatives are only allowed in certain limited places in the city, which will create traffic and air pollution," the lawsuit states.
     The union claims that the city should have considered the adverse effects of indoor cultivation when crafting the ordinance.
     Up to 26,451 home sites could be used to cultivate marijuana to avoid classification as cooperatives under the regulation, the union claims. It says that 19,838 pounds of marijuana could be cultivated to meet patient demand each year.
     Citing a recent environmental study, the union says that indoor cultivation accounts for almost one-third of cannabis production and leaves a significant carbon footprint.
     "In California, the top-producing state, indoor cultivation is responsible for about 3 percent of all electricity use or 9 percent of household use. This corresponds to greenhouse-gas emissions equal to those from 1 million cars," the lawsuit states.
     The union asks the court to enjoin the city's regulation until complies with state environmental law.
     It is represented by Jamie Hall with the Channel Law Group of Long Beach.
     The City of San Diego did not immediately respond to a request for comment.